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Kentucky lawmakers hear bills baring transgender girls from school sports

As House Bill 23 makes its way through additional committees, Senate Bill 83 is posted for passage by the Senate on Wednesday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky's House and Senate both have a bill aiming to keep transgender girls from competing in interscholastic girls' sports. 

On Tuesday, the House Education Committee passed House Bill 23 13-6, after hearing testimony from young athletes and stakeholders. 

Before that, Representative Ryan Dotson changed the bill to exclude kindergarten through the fifth grade. He said, "A lot of puberty changes doesn't occur until later fourth, early fifth grade." The bill would impact middle, high school and collegiate athletes. 

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association already prohibits trans students from competing in their desired high school sports unless they get sex reassignment surgery, use hormonal therapy or legally change their government information such as driver's license or birth certificate. 

Allies for trans youth take issue with the bill. Chris Hartman with the Fairness Campaign argued, "If you do pass this bill, the people it will impact are our youngest and most vulnerable transgender kids."

RELATED: Indiana takes another step closer to banning transgender female students from competing in women's sports

One of those students, Fischer Wells, plays field hockey at Westport Middle School in Louisville. When she first signed up to join the team, her dad said there weren't enough students interested, so she went around asking other students to sign up until there were enough. 

"This is not an instance of Fischer taking anyone's spot, this happened because she went out and made it happen," her dad Brian Wells said. 

"I worked really hard to play this sport," Fischer testified. "I just hope you'll let me play."

As House Bill 23 makes its way through additional committees, Senate Bill 83 is posted for passage by the Senate on Wednesday. That bill would bar trans girls from kindergarten through 12th grade from competing in female school sports. 

Both bills would impact Fischer in her eighth grade year. "I worked really hard to play this sport, I just hope you'll let me play," she said.

Fischer's dad tells us it's not about competition or athletic ability. It's about the life lessons you learn in sports, and in parenting. He said, "When a kid tells you who they are, you listen. That's what this is all about for us."

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